Beach men's duo first, women's pair runner-up at NC State
April 21, 2018 | Apex, N.C.
In preparation for this Saturday's National Collegiate Sand Volleyball Association (NCSVA) Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships, which it will host for the first time, Liberty University's beach volleyball team entered five men's and six women's teams in this past weekend's North Carolina State Invitational at Southern Sands Volleyball Club in Apex, N.C.
A total of 13 men's and 13 women's teams competed overall with other tandems coming from the host Wolfpack and North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Pairs were seeded based on their NCSVA points from previous events and the top two teams from each of three pools advanced into the Gold playoffs with the remaining duos competing in the Silver bracket.
Liberty sent four of its six women's teams and three of its five men's pairs into Gold bracket play.
In a matchup pitting two Lady Flames tandems, freshmen Hannah Schanz and Rachel Weaver defeated junior Heather Podell and sophomore Meghan Todd in the quarterfinals before losing to sophomore Olivia Jensen and freshman Alyssa Register in the semifinal round. Jensen and Register then lost to an NC State team in a three-game championship match.
Freshman Hannah Heller and junior Maddy Riley, who won a play-in game to get into the Gold playoffs, lost their quarterfinal match to another Wolfpack pair.
"Overall, (Assistant Coach) Jess (Nelson) and I were incredibly proud of the team's showing," Liberty Head Coach Kaleb VanDePerre said. "Olivia and Alyssa did really well for their first tournament and should be our top team throughout the summer. Hannah and Rachel have shown tremendous growth since last semester. They were playing lights out."
On the men's side, Liberty indoor volleyball junior setter Kaden Knepper and senior middle hitter Gene DeJesus went undefeated on the day, sweeping a team from UNC in the finals.
Senior Alex Lower and junior Josh Talamoa advanced to the semifinals before falling to the same Tar Heels tandem in a three-game match.
"Kaden and Gene looked dominant and Alex and Josh played the best I have seen them play in a while, playing smart and efficient," VanDePerre said.
In the Silver bracket, Flames junior Peter Gooch and sophomore Kellins "T" Fongixer defeated Liberty teammates, senior Andrew Ray and sophomore Matt Gille, in the semifinals before falling to NC State in the championship.
VanDePerre hopes to draw upwards of 16 men's and 16 women's teams to Saturday's NCSVA Mid-Atlantic Regionals, with one bracket competing on the four beach courts located beyond the Liberty Mountain Intramural Complex and one on the four courts next to the Liberty Field Hockey Field.
Besides NC State and UNC, teams from JMU, South Florida, Central Florida, and Florida State are expected with the men's and women's overall winners receiving a travel stipend to go to the NCSVA National Championships in California in early August.